The Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, on Monday upheld the election of Governor David Umahi of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the March 9 2019 Governorship election.
Chief Ajah Agha, candidate of the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM), had gone to the tribunal to challenge Gov. Umahi’ victory on the ground of an unlawful exclusion of his name from Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s ballot paper, accusing PDP and its candidate of masterminding the exclusion.
The Tribunal’s sitting which took place at the state High Court premises had Justice A.B Abdukarim as the presiding judge, who dismissed the petition for lacking in merit.
Delivering the judgment, Chairman of the Tribunal said: “PDM did not submit the name of their candidate to INEC when they were supposed to do so. Your party sent the name three days after closure of submission according to finding.”
In addition, the Chairman noted that PDM “did not organise primaries so as to produce a candidate according to INEC’s guideline. Therefore, your petition lacks merit,” he ruled.
Reacting to the judgment, the state Deputy Governor, Kelechi Igwe, who led other members of the state Executive Council to the tribunal, said the court was not a chessboard, and so had proven that no one could deceive them.
The lead counsel to the respondent, Author Obi Okafor (SAN), noted that the lawyers were given opportunity to present their cases and no one could complain of not being given a fair hearing.
He said PDM and its candidate failed to prove that he was validly omitted and as the court didn’t have interest in the matter, it struck out the case.
He commended the court and said that the petitioner if not satisfied with the judgment, could appeal.